More than likely you are familiar with the song, “The twelve days of Christmas.” This Christmas season I search for a deeper, more personal meaning to the lyrics of this song.tree.”
The first gift my true love gave to me was a partridge in a pear tree. Today, such gifts would seem quaint. Before you start yawning, consider the first gift of a partridge. In the land of Palestine partridges are wilderness fowl that are known for their distinct call. Additionally, partridges have beautifully marked plumage.
Here’s the symbolism I found in the gift of a partridge. A partridge thrives in a wilderness environment.
What a prize it would be to find this beautiful creature in such an inhospitable region. I am reminded of the times I found myself wandering in a proverbial wilderness only to hear the sound of a familiar voice, which breathed life into my parched soul.
The partridge is presented perched in the second gift, a pear tree. An Asbury College student, Scott Cozart, told this parable in a chapel service.
“A father wanted to teach his four sons the lesson of not judging something or someone too quickly, and so he called his four sons together and said “I have a task for you. I want you, my eldest son to go out into our fields and take a look at the pear tree and come back and tell me what your evaluation is of its condition.””
“So the eldest went out and saw the pear tree. But it was winter, and the son saw the tree on a harsh winter day and reported back and said to his father. “I see nothing of promise about the tree. It appears old, and gnarled and has no blooms on it at all. I doubt it will survive the winter.””
“Three months later the father sent the next eldest son out in the spring to evaluate the pear tree. The son came back saying “The tree is very beautiful, with white blooms, but it seems purely ornamental, it has no fruit, nor any sign of ever bearing any. I doubt it will be of much practical use to us.””
“Three months later the father sent the third from the eldest son out in the summer. The son went out to see the tree and came back reporting: “the tree seems to be growing and doing well, and it is full of leaves, and I could see some fruit, so I picked one and tasted it, but it was bitter, not fit for human consumption. I doubt it will prove of much use to us.”’
“Finally three months later the father sent his youngest son out to see the tree once more. This time the tree was full of ripe beautiful golden and red pears. The son tried one and came back with the glowing report “Father we must come quickly for the harvest is upon the tree, and it is heavy laden and needs us to pick the pears for they are ripe and delicious now.””
“The father called his four sons back together, and said, “You see each of you have observed well the condition of a the tree at a particular season of the year, but your judgment of the tree was only partial, and made too quickly based on what you saw on only the one occasion. See to it that you never judge human beings this way. Never evaluate them too quickly or on the basis of one encounter, for it is unfair and unwise. Indeed all living things should only be evaluated over the course of time and after repeated careful inspection, for who knows but the ugliest and most unproductive of living things might some day turn into the most beautiful and fruitful.””
From the parable of the pear tree, I was able to see the beauty found in a relationship with my true love. One that withstands the test of time.
Partridges are not known to roost in trees. So when the partridge is presented perched in a pear tree, it stands as a monument observable from a great distance. The partridge’s distinct call is capable of spanning a vast wilderness. A partridge in a pear tree is a beautiful, fruit-bearing gift, which stands out in a world crowded with distractions vying for our attention.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16